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Playground monitors used to be the ones to break up fights caused by bullies, but that was before the bullies got off the monkey bars and went online. Look for these five signs that might indicate a child is being bullied online.
According to the anti-bullying site dosomething.org, 43 percent of children have been bullied online. What makes online bullying different from face-to-face bullying is that it doesn’t end when the school day ends. Online bullying can happen around the clock and children who experience it are likely to become withdrawn.
A child that suddenly withdraws from spending time with family or friends may be experiencing depression or anxiety from online bullying. Keep notice of any child that exhibits a sudden desire to be left alone when at home or in social situations and don’t be afraid to ask if something is wrong.
Children of all ages often have some sort of handheld device capable of accessing the Internet. When a child suddenly shows no interest in the Internet, this may indicate the child is being harassed online by friends or classmates. Signs to watch out for include a sudden stop in playing games online, using the phone or hanging out with friends. This withdrawal may be done to avoid reading harassing words posted on social media pages, in emails and texts, or chat rooms.
Keep in mind that bullying online is most often done by someone the child knows. Online bullies can get a hold of social media, email or messenger passwords and post embarrassing messages or photos pretending to be the bullied child. Conversely, online bullies may post comments about a child online to encourage other classmates or friends to say hurtful things about the child.
Compulsively checking texts or emails
Nowadays many children are on their smart phones for the majority of their waking hours. However, if a child seems nervous or upset by reading texts and emails (or whatever else pops up on his or her phone), then it is a good indicator that something unpleasant is occurring.
Acting out at home or in school
Children of all ages have a tendency to act out when something is wrong. Any change in emotional behavior could indicate that a child is being bullied online, especially if the child doesn’t want to go school or play with friends.
Skipping school or asking to stay home
Children are always trying to stay home from school for no reason, but getting upset about having to go to school or take part in extra-curricular activities or sports may be a cause for concern. Online bullying rarely stays online; posts made on social networking sites, emailed, texted, or sent through instant messaging often make their way to the classroom in the form of teasing.
Take a stand against bullying
Don’t be afraid to ask for passwords to all of your child’s social networking sites, email accounts, and other online activities. Set limits on time allowed online or time allowed on certain websites.
To really keep check on what’s happening online, install parental-control software to view every keystroke typed, restrict certain websites, and receive daily reports of any online activity. Print or save any evidence of bullying found online pertaining to your child and talk to him or her about the situation. Only 1 in 10 victims inform a parent, guardian or other trusted adult about the abuse, so don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help end bullying.
Dana Rasmussen is an author, who writes about a variety of topics including arts and entertainment, social media, marketing trends, and ways to stay safe online for sites like reputation.com